Michigan Hospitality Industry Associations Merge to Create One Powerful New Voice


Michigan’s restaurants and hotels have been working together informally to serve the state’s booming tourism business for decades. Now, they are joining forces formally to present a unified voice for the hospitality industry in the Great Lakes State.

The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) and Check In Michigan (formerly the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association) are merging their two statewide associations into one organization called the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA).

MLRA is expected to obtain member approval and launch officially on April 1 at the current MRA headquarters in Lansing. Although the merger won’t be finalized until next year, the MRA will do business as the MLRA effective immediately, with changes to its external presence already underway. The new website domain is mrla.org and social media handles for the MRLA are @TheOfficialMRLA.

“This proposed merger feels like the natural evolution of our two organizations,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRA, who will serve in the same capacity for the MRLA. “We already share many members, legislative priorities, and industry challenges. Through this proposed merger, we have the opportunity to elevate the voice of the hospitality industry in Lansing and in Washington, D.C., while expanding upon the value and vision we already provide for our members.”

The restaurant and lodging industries play an integral role in Michigan’s economy. The restaurant industry employs nearly 450,000 people and generates more than $16 billion in annual sales, while the lodging industry employs more than 155,000 people and creates nearly $24 billion in revenue.

“Our organizations represent unique industries that have many of the same interests,” says Deanna Richeson, president and CEO of Check In Michigan.

In addition, the Detroit Restaurant Association, a local chapter of the MRA operating in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties with a special focus on Detroit, will rebrand as the Detroit Restaurant & Lodging Association (DRLA).